Problem: Spills have occurred
on coverings such as velvet, leather, or vinyl.
Background: Dirt and spills on special furniture
coverings need to be handled with caution. Velvet, a
fabric construction technique, can pre sent problems with
at-home methods. In general, there are 2 types of leather:
leather that has a surface coating, and leather that has
very little surface protection. The way you handle spills
on leather will depend on which type you have. Vinyl
coverings also require special care when cleaning or
What to do: Velvets with stain- resistant finishes
usually can be spot-cleaned with a cloth dampened with
water. With rayon velvets, avoid water; they can sometimes
be spot-cleaned with dry-cleaning sol vents. Note that
stain-removal products often warn against their use on
velvets, so test for discoloration or pile distortion in a
hidden area be fore applying one to a stain. Some
adhesives used to make flocked velvet are affected by
dry-cleaning sol vents, and many velvets can’t be cleaned
with water-based cleaning agents. Dry powder cleaners may
be used but, because of possible damage, read labels,
pretest all cleaners, and consult a professional cleaner
if in doubt.
To clean treated or surface-coated leather, dust with a
dry cloth regularly or occasionally clean with a solution
of mild soap and warm water. Wipe suds away thoroughly
with a clean, damp cloth; then lightly buff with a dry
cloth. Most stains can be wiped away with a damp sponge.
(Avoid using leather creams, saddle soaps, or oil
treatments on treated leather unless the manufacturer
states otherwise.) With untreated leathers, or those with
limited surface protection, an art-gum eraser may remove
ordinary dirt. An un coated surface will absorb liquids
and oils, and stains may be impossible to remove. (Avoid
using strong detergents, furniture polishes, or
Vinyl's can be cleaned with a clean, damp cloth. For
heavier soil, sponge with a warm water and mild detergent
solution. (Allow the sudsy mixture to remain for a few
minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth and polish with a dry
one; don’t let the mixture seep into the upholstery
padding.) Rinse well, and pay special attention to areas
in contact with hair oils and tonics because they may make
vinyl's brittle. Household cleaners may be effective on
very soiled vinyl, but cleaners with ammonia or chlorine
may cause dam age, and those with abrasives may scratch.
Dry-cleaning solvents can cause the fabric to stiffen and
its layers to separate. Check labels for products that are
marked “safe for all vinyl”; some special auto-upholstery
cleaners may also be safe to use.
Special advice: Nail polish and polish remover will
damage vinyl's permanently if left on the surface. Sponge
with synthetic turpentine or mineral spirits (test first).
Ballpoint pen marks may be permanent, but you can try
rubbing them with alcohol. If this doesn’t work, cover the
area with a clean, white cloth soaked in a 6% solution of
hydrogen peroxide for about 30 minutes (also test first).
Felt tip markers will usually leave permanent stains, even
if wiped up immediately. However, they may respond to
treatment with mineral spirits (test first). Some marker
inks may be removed with water.
Helpful hint: Vinyl's
sometimes absorb dyes from colored objects that they come
in contact with. Use white cloths for cleaning. And, after
using a cleaning agent, wash and rinse the surface with